Friday, October 16, 2009

October meeting, November Speaker

Dear Fellowship members,

On October 12th we shared memories and reflected on the generous lives of our two former members, William Parker and Shinichiro (Sam) Noda. It was wonderful to have so many join us.
Charles McJilton then gave an exciting talk about his work with homeless men in Tokyo and the food bank, Second Harvest. He said among many thought-provoking ideas that he considers himself like a baker, delivering a product to customers, not someone ^giving^ handouts.

November 8th, Sunday 3'00
International House (new fourth floor seminar room)

Speaker--Andy Game, of Alpha-- a program that tries to offer "in the workplace" a time and place to consider personal faith and moral issues. The program originated recently in England. As i understand it, some concerned Anglicans felt established churches did not address the hunger for spiritual experience and or even basic non-sectarian information amidst the alienation and over-busy lives of so many of us modern urbanites. Andy proposes to talk about the history and role of this approach-- including here in Tokyo, and to share how his faith has worked in his own life.

Also on Nov 8th -- at the International House Coffee Shop
Stan Yukavich, Peggy Kanada, Chuck Olson and ANYONE else who would like to meet briefly in order to discuss the FUTURE of the Unitarian Fellowship.
We hope to touch on finances, location, recruitment of new members, publicity, because the continuation of our tiny community is not clear.
If you cannot join us please call or email me with your suggestions.
Kanada-- tel/fax is 03-6240-1990

Please encourage even one person to come with you to try our fellowship discussion and comradary.


Ella said...

Greetings. I just thought I'd try out this blog space and leave a comment about yesterday's meeting. I felt a bit torn by my interaction with the speaker. Here was a guy who came across as sincere and gentle on the one hand, and on the other hand, there was the apparatus of his organization, which came across to me as insincere, commercialized, and unclear in its purposes. The video so put me off that I could not ignore it and all that it implied about the Alpha course. But I realize, too, we did not get to know Andy himself or hear his story. I hope people who had dinner with him had a chance to do this.

Tokyo Unitarian Fellowship said...

Vivek asked me to post the following comment.

"I would like to respond to Ella's perceptive comments on the speaker in November, namely, Andy and the Alpha program and take them further. I couldn't agree more. In conclusion, she wrote: "But I realize, too, we did not get to know Andy himself or hear his story. I hope people who had dinner with him had a chance to do this."
I took the opportunity to interact with Andy while walking to the restaurant and at dinner. I came home none the wiser. This doesn't mean he is insincere. In fact, to the contrary and that is usually the case with organisations such as these. Sincere persons get caught in promoting causes whose goals and interests aren't understood and/or probed in depth. Big names and reports from prominent newspapers are thrown in for good measure, as if they give any stature. Au contraire.
I came from a country which is widely known for its charlatans. We have them galore and we export them by the dozens, both men and women. It is an equal opportunity exercise.
It may be worthwhile for the Fellowship to be much more careful in extending invitations to speakers in the future. This in no way implies that caution wasn't exercised in this case. It surely must have been, but why did I feel that we were being sold a bill of goods."

Tokyo Unitarian Fellowship said...

This is Chuck.

I think we all felt the DVD presentation at the beginning was a more sell than substance. This was disappointing to me because Alpha seemed to be trying to create a community, open to anyone, to stimulate the discussion of religious and moral issues.
But it was certainly interesting to learn about this organization and its activities in Tokyo and around the world working with Christian churches trying to help them create relevancy for faith - rather than confining it to only Sunday.

I am afraid at dinner we didn't give Andy much of a chance to discuss either more about Alpha, his early life in Bangladesh, or other topics as we got into lively discussions about the Indian food we were eating, and things like Vivek's studying under one of Martin Luther King's speech writers in Europe.

But as usual, we enjoyed the good fellowship at the pre-meeting, meeting and dinner.
Having a little controversy over the speaker keeps things lively, and we are looking forward to Vivek providing that for us next month.
(I will log my comments as Chuck when I figure out how to do that.)

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